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Speculative geographies

August 15, 2012

From the series Immemorial (1994) by Rosângela Rennó, an installation featuring
portraits of the forgotten workers and children who built Brasília.

I have a new essay called ‘A New City for a New Man’ in the the U.A.E.-based print journal The State (الحالة). Their Vol. II issue, edited by Ahmad Makiya and Rahel Aima, is dedicated to Speculative Geographies. Articles will be released online down the line but print issues can purchased here. The piece focuses on the building of Brasilia and São Paulo as foundational projects for ‘progress’ in Brazil through two works by Guimarães Rosa and Person. Here is an excerpt:

The modernist view does not, by definition, take into account the human aspects of place when it imagines the ‘ideal’ city. Yet I know of no better chronicles of urban consciousness in the wake of emerging cities than “The Thin Edge of Happiness” (“Ás margens da alegria,” 1962), a lean, five-page short story by João Guimarães Rosa, and the film São Paulo, Anonymous City (São Paulo, Sociedade Anônima, 1965), written and directed by Luis Sérgio Person. Each are wrenching portraits of selves yoking to the sensibilities and demands of Brazilian modernity. Their narratives distinguish human sensoria from mechanical idealism, a belief in the liberating effects of technocracy that comes to enjoy a privileged societal position.

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